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Is the iPhone 6 Worth the Hype?

Apple is known for its well-choreographed product introductions, so there was much anticipation as it launched its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last month. John MacWilliams wonders: Is the iPhone 6 worth the hype?

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 PlusApple is known for its well-choreographed product introductions, so there was much anticipation as it launched its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last month. The crowds were still there, but the latest iPhones may not go down as a one of the hallmarks of Apple’s blockbuster product announcements.

Apple stock is up 6,000% since 2002, and its future is bounded only by its ability to preserve average selling prices and product winning streaks. Of course, the modern smartphone was initiated by Apple and, with all its future iterations, the smartphone will go down as one of the most productive consumer products of the 21st century.

The new phones were leaked in advance (when you’ve already started to manufacture and stock 50 million phones, it is hard to keep it a secret). The “announcement” may be more of a game of catch-up for Apple than a leading-edge product introduction, particularly when compared to what Samsung has already done with its large-screen phones and Galaxy Gear. It’s hard to beat early iPhone announcements that were all-new and not just product extensions. Some of the iPhone 6’s best new features involve things you can’t see and touch: New health apps, iOS 8, and Apple Pay, which could eventually equal the digital book phenomenon.

iOS 8 is an incremental improvement which may prove to be a game-changer. Apple Pay will require merchant readers with NFC capability, entailing an infrastructure challenge. It is said to be more secure than a credit card, faster at checkout than plastic, and less likely to be hacked or stolen. Its healthcare and wellness apps are evolving with the cooperation of the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics, WebMD, and others.

The new phones have the signature Apple design excellence: A high level of integration, a small L-shaped PCB with a number of micro-stack connectors (around 14 in total, counting both halves), its proprietary SIM slot, and Apple’s Lightning connector, mini-jack, and charging/docking cables. Unlike Samsung, there are no micro-SD or removable battery connectors.

There were some glitches, now fixed, which briefly took billions off Apple’s stock price immediately following the introduction. Additionally, it was discovered that the 6 Plus phones can be bent if some people sit on them, setting off a flurry of attempts by children to bend the display models in Apple stores. Apple has diffused this minor inconvenience by showing it takes 250 pounds of force to bend an iPhone 6 Plus and pointing out that reports of bending are less than 10 out of 10 million.

A quick look at teardown specs indicates the iPhone 6 may be a bit more expensive to build than the S5, but otherwise has comparable features. Click here and here for more teardown info.

All in all, a good but not earth-shattering announcement, although a man in Detroit is willing to sell his “toxic property” home in exchange for an iPhone 6, if you have one to spare…

John MacWilliams, Market Director, Bishop & Associates, Inc.

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John MacWilliams

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